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War Poetry Long Essay

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War Poetry Long Essay By Carina Uehr "This is no case of petty right or wrong That politicians or philosophers Can judge. I hate not Germans, nor grow hot With love of Englishmen, to please newspapers. [...] [Yet] Besides my hate for one fat patriot My hatred for the Kaiser is love true..." ('This is no Case of Petty Right or Wrong' by Edward Thomas) R eality and our perception of it are often very different. Truth is a very unsubstantial concept, as it relies on the perceptions and preconditions of its beholder, and those, as we know, can be very subjective. War inspires many feelings in people, from courage, valour and admiration, to disgust, terror and hopelessness. In the First World War of 1914 to 1919, this can be particularly seen in the literature and poetry written during that time. Patriotism, high moral concepts, and a certain amount of naivety influenced the social attitudes and values of the time. Yet, what society thought as the truth, was in fact an opinion, shaped by many decades of comfort and isolation from the true realities of war. ...read more.


This pressure was only increased by other pro-war writers, who wrote mocking verses to inspire guilt in the 'shirkers' who did not join up. Their light and dismissive tones of possible injuries and death disgusted the soldiers who had seen the true terror of war. In an attempt to shock these writers out of their self-righteous indignation, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and their fellows employed sarcasm and irony to ridicule this attitude, or used graphic and detailed descriptions of the carnage and filth of the trenches to deliberately shock the na�ve and staunchly patriotic civilians, who had no real idea of what the conditions of war were actually like. S assoon's poem, 'Does it Matter?' is a good example of the use of sarcasm to startle his readers into new ways of seeing and understanding the realities of war. The poem is written in a similarly nonchalant tone as the recruiting poems, yet it has a bitter and scathing edge which is very noticeable. It's repetitive pattern of the question "Does it matter?" reinforces the message of the poem, that, yes, losing your legs, sight and sanity does very well matter! ...read more.


The next line breaks this spell, and the mood is shattered. In a burst of feverish activity, most of the troop manages to get their gas masks on in time, but one man does not. Owen describes his death throes with vivid language, purely designed to shock readers with graphic imagery. He describes the helplessness one feels at seeing someone die, unable to do anything but stand and watch powerlessly. "In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, / He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning." At this stage, Owen directly addresses the reader, the patriotic civilian totally na�ve of the realities of war: "If in some smothering dreams you too could pace / Behind the wagon that we flung him in..." He goes on to describe the death of the gassed man: his "...white eyes writhing in his face...", and his expression, "...like a devil sick of sin...", with the "...blood come gargling from [his] froth-corrupted lungs." This depiction aims directly to jolt the reader out of his predisposition of seeing war as glorious and 'Right', confronting them with the completely inglorious, horrendous and terrible reality, and in so doing, attempting to change the attitudes and values of the reader. This style of writing is a great contrast to the flowery vague poems of Brooke and other popular poets of the time. ...read more.

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